Darryl Adams was supposed to be making his case for a college football scholarship.
The Northeast High School senior was projected to be among the Baton Rouge area’s top players for 2014. That all changed in Week 3 when Adams’ fibula snapped as he was scoring on a 65-yard play against Tara.
Fast-forward to two months later. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Adams is at his first practice since being cleared with the playoff-bound Vikings. Northeast coach David Masterson calls the same play.
Adams takes the ball and runs with it, garnering applause from teammates.
“The biggest battle for Darryl wasn’t physical; it was mental,” Masterson said. “My point to him was, ‘Do it again and nothing is going to happen.’ He needed to understand that.”
Adams plans to keep on running and making plays when the fifth-seeded Vikings (9-3) travel to play top-seeded Many (13-0) at 7 p.m. Friday in Class 2A semifinal action.
“I’m just thankful to have this opportunity to play with my teammates again,” Adams said. “It was really tough at first. I only cried once, and that was the first night when I found out it was broken.
“I was on crutches for three weeks and in a boot for three weeks. I came to practices and watched film. I just tried to stay positive.”
Adams is a four-year starter on both offense and defense who also played some as an eighth-grader, so his injury amounted to a double whammy. As other players stepped into Adams’ roles as a defensive back and a wide receiver, he never lost faith, something Masterson and Northeast defensive coordinator John Felder said was crucial.
Masterson’s phone is filled with texts from Adams, who sent messages to point out tendencies of opponents he saw on film or during games. He also was there to offer advice to the teammates who took over his roles.
“I’m proud of those guys and what we’ve done as a team,” Adams said.
Felder, a former St. Helena Central standout who played defensive back at Louisiana-Lafayette, said Adams is back to close to 100 percent.
“He just has so much range as a safety,” Felder said. “His ability to run to the ball and come up and make tackles in the run game are impressive. I think he can play at the next level, and I hope he gets that chance.”
Several schools dropped their recruitment of Adams when the injury happened. Since his return in a second-round playoff win over Pickering, Southern and Nicholls State have shown renewed interest.
Adams had a 42-yard reception and made a diving interception in the win over Pickering. He was used more as a decoy in last week’s quarterfinal game against rival East Feliciana.
The Tigers showed their respect for Adams by moving three defenders in his offensive path on Northeast’s first play.
Adams said he has been cleared by doctors who have told him they don’t expect the injury to happen again. That didn’t keep his parents, Salandra and Darryl Sr., from worrying.
“My mom was scared,” Adams said. “She was nervous and afraid I was going to get hurt. As that game (against Pickering) went on she saw … everybody did … that it would be OK.”
Adams credits his teammates with supporting him during his injury. He was welcomed to the practice field that first day with applause.
“They encouraged me, and so did the coaches,” Adams said. “They kept telling me we’d be in the playoffs and I’d get to play again. It worked out.”
How Adams’ college football future will work out remains to be seen. He plans a college major in civil engineering, carries a 3.0 GPA and has met the NCAA’s academic qualifying standards.
“To me, the thing that makes this story special is that Darryl didn’t give in,” Masterson said. “A lot of guys in his situation would have called it a career and moved on. He stayed with it every week, watching film and staying involved.”
Adams would like nothing more than to help the Vikings extend their season to a title game. It is NHS’ first semifinal berth in a decade.
The odds were against Adams playing just as they are against the Viking this week. He’s OK with it.
“Many is a really good team,” Adams said. “You can see it. They’ve got talent and some great players.
“We’re going to do everything we can to win.”